31 December 2012

World enough, and time to dance

To his Coy Mistress
by Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.

For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Nicholas Poussin 1594-1665
Andrew Marvell 1621-1678

23 December 2012

Advent Calendar

Painting by Hildegarde of Bingen

Advent Calendar

by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

He will come like last fall's leaf fall. One night when the November wind has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth wakes choking on the mould, the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost. One morning when the shrinking earth opens on mist, to find itself arrested in the net of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark. One evening when the bursting red December sun draws up the sheet and penny-masks its eye to yield the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come, will come like crying in the night, like blood, like breaking, as the earth writhes to toss him free. He will come like child.

18 December 2012

Africans in Renaissance Europe 2: Black as Accessory, Black as Human

 Circle of Bartolomeo Passarotti. 1579.
Dominico Giuliani and his Servant.Manchester City Galleries, Manchester. 

This continues the previous entry.

There are gorgeous Renaissance portraits in which a black -- smaller proportions, lower-down, looking up -- is shown as the accessory of fashion and power. The black is another possession, along with the mechanical gold clock, the pearls, the gold buttons, and the armor.  Look at the Titian portrait of Federico Gonzaga with his hand on his white dog, below, and then at the picture of Princess Juana with her hand on her black boy.

But a few of these portraits seem to present something more complex. 
What does it mean, in the Bordone portrait of the man in armor, below, that he has one arm around the white page and the other arm separated from the black page by a black helmet shown with more clarity than the page? Is this painting wrongly labeled?  Was the man painted with his son -- look at those noses -- first, and then the black boy posed separately?   What about the first one here, where the black -- servant -- is shown in equal proportion?  This servant has so much the look of Dominico Giuliani, that he could be his son -- is surely his son.  I am fascinated that the word "son" came to mind immediately in looking at these two paintings, both new to me. 

Paris Bordone. Mid-16th C.
Portrait of a Man in Armor with Two Pages.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Titian, Federico Gonzaga.
Prado, Madrid.


Christovao de Morais, 1555.
Juana of Austria, Daughter of Charles V.
Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels.

 Titian, 1558.
Portrait of Fabrizio Salvaressa.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Titian, 1573.
Portrait of Laura die Dianti.
Collection Heinz Kisters, Switzerland. 

Individual portraits of blacks in the same years show complex individualsIt is difficult for me to separate my own reaction of sadness from what I read in the faces.  I immediately begin to construct a back story for them.  My own back story: I grew up in West Africa -- I have been in the ports, up the rivers, know the scents and sounds from which these people were taken.

. Jan Jansz Mostaert, ca. 1520-25.
Portrait of a Black Man.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Annibale Carracci, ca. 1580s. Portrait of an African Slave Woman.
Tomasso Brothers, Leeds. England.

Flemish/German. 1530-40.
Portrait of a Wealthy African.
Private Collection, Antwerp.

Workshop of Gerard David. ca. 1514.
Detail, Adoration of the Kings.
Princeton University Art Museum.


 Rafaello Schiamiossi (?). ca. 1608.
Don Antonio Manuele de Funta,
Ambassador of the King of the Kongo to the Pope.
Baltimore Museum of Art.

14 December 2012

Africans in Renaissance Europe 1: Drawings and Cameos

Durer, Portrait study of a black man. 
1508? Albertina, Vienna. 
From now through January 21, the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland, has an exhibition with the title Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe. My plans to see it have not worked out, but I have the catalogue, and will give pictures from it in this and a subsequent blog

The catalogue is inexpensive and well worth, acquiring, with the warning that the illustrations for the exhibition itself are crammed into a section in the back, many of them printed the size of postage stamps. This is especially disappointing in the case of the woodcuts, which would have been the images most available to contemporaries. The sculpture in several photographs is poorly lighted. There is no index. Otherwise, this is a remarkable -- often beautiful -- collection of images of black faces with lucid supporting essays. I can see this catalogue as a class text.

Durer, Katherina
1521, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizie, Florence

Jacob de Gehyn III, Studies from Plaster Casts,(before 1640)
Musée de Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins

Andrea Mantegna, Judith with her Black Slave
(ca. 1431-1506) Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizie, Florence

Paolo Veronese, Study of the Head of a Black Man
ca. 1573, Private collection, courtesy of MMA, New York

Paolo Veronese, Study of a Black Youth Eating
ca. 1580, Art market.

Ludovico Carracci, Head of a Black Man (1580-1600?) Philadelphia Museum of Art

Workshop of Girolamo Miseroni 16thC.
Setting by Hans Vermeyn 1602-08.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Workshop of Girolamo Miseroni 16thC.
Staatliche Münzsammlung. Munich

Workshop of Girolamo Miseroni ca. 1560.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Late 16th C

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Milanese (?) 1550-1600.
Bibliothèques nationale de France, Paris.

10 December 2012

The Flanders Galleys, 1485: Part Two

Continuation of the commission from Doge Giovanni Mocenigo to Bartolomeo Minio, appointing him Captain of the Flanders Galleys. 12 April 1485.

* * * * * *

After the departure from Flanders of these present galleys, all merchandise, of which the conveyance is conceded to them exclusively and which shall be sent to Venice (by other means) within two months from that time, either by land or water (in case the galleys have not their full cargo), to pay full freight to the Signory, for the benefit of the arsenal, whose masters to receive one "soldo" per "livre," for all sums thus collected by them. All goods from England likewise brought by land or sea to pay the like freight to the said galleys until the departure of the next galleys for England. 
The physician not to receive more than seven ducats per month. 
On the outward voyage, the masters not to stay in any place beyond the limited number of days, and on the-homeward voyage less, under penalty of 100 golden ducats for each day, to be deducted from the bounty; the captain keeping account of these days under oath.

Notice to be given of all these clauses to the consuls at Bruges and in London, that they may endeavour to obtain the payment of full freight to the Signory for all merchandise. 
Prohibition against shipment in the holds, or in their berths by the. masters, officials, or oarsmen, of cloths called Verui (sic) Santone, Lowestoft, Bastards, Serges, and Furs (varij-vairs). The cloths called "Bastards," Lowestoft, white "Gotifaldi," wools, and block tin, to be loaded for Ven ice alone, and not for intermediate ports. 
The masters to give the crews, arbalast men, and comrades three months' pay in England, at the rate of 38 pence per ducat. One month's loan to be made at the same rate; and any further advance to be charged at the exchange of the day. On payment of these moneys in England, the "writers" of the galleys forbidden to receive more than one penny from each man. 
Prohibition against stowing on deck either chests or wrought pewter ; nor may currants or molasses be stowed in the hold. 
Gross spice to pay freight at the rate of four ducats; small spice and Levant sugar, five ducats; cottons, raw and spun, 12 ducats, currants,-lambskins, and undressed hides, 18 ducats; wax of every sort, 10 ducats; dressed hides, 10 ducats for every 1,000; paper, one ducat and a half for every bale containing 12 reams; silks of every sort, 20 ducats per thousand-weight Troy (mier sotil). Foreign fustians may be imported under the usual restrictions. Cloths valued at 25 ducats and under, half a ducat per piece, and of higher value, one ducat; household utensils, half a ducat per 100; and should anyone smuggle raw silk, or cloth of silk, or pass them as spices, substituting one sort of merchandise for another, the goods to be forfeited. 
The freights of merchandise and goods loaded for the intermediate ports to belong to the masters; but all goods loaded in Flanders, Malaga, England, and Sicily, whether on deck or below, to pay freight to the Signory. 
Each of the masters on his safe return to Venice to receive from the Signory a bounty of 3,500 golden ducats of the unappropriated moneys of the Jews, which, the debentures being liquidated, may not be dispersed or employed for any other purpose than that. bounty, under penalty of 1,000 ducats to anyone acting otherwise; he paying the sum from his own purse, and being proclaimed a thief in the hall of Grand Council. Each of the masters is at liberty to proceed against those who shall make any motion to the contrary. The masters to receive also for the aforesaid bounty 3,500 ducats of the three and two per cents. from the Signory, and all the freights (on goods loaded for the immediate ports) on the homeward voyage. 
Each of the masters to disburse 400 ducats as a loan eight days after receiving the galleys from the masters of the arsenal, under penalty of 1,000 ducats. This loan to. be repaid them from the proceeds of the auction and the emendations (emendi); and, should the price paid by them at the auction exceed the loan, they may deduct it from the bounty derived from the two and three per cents.; the masters of the arsenal being bound, under penalty, to expend the loan on nothing but the outfit of the galleys, and the captain or the majority of the masters being present when the moneys are dis­bursed, and keeping careful and particular account of their appli­cation that they be not employed for any other purpose. 
On the opening of the bank of the Flanders galleys the masters to deposit the installments of pay required for the crews, arbalast men, and stipendiaries. The masters forbidden to engage men for the voyage, instead of by the month, or to compound with them in any way, under penalty, but the crews to be paid like those of the galleys bound.to Syria. No vessel at Venice to load for Flanders, or be " put up " for that voyage from the day of the decree (28 April 1485) until two months after the period assigned to the galleys for their departure (15 July 1485); ships bound to Candia or from' Candia to Flanders or England to be at liberty to continue their voyages, but not to load currants or others goods of which the Flanders galleys had the monopoly. Should the captain incur expense for the reception of personages of rank or others, he is to give a note of it in writing to the masters, and should he not do so, its payment to be optional with th em, provided the captain allege no just impediment. The galleys to convey the Republic's ambassadors and envoys, and ammunition, and all other things belonging to the Signory to any ports made on the voyage, free of passage money or freight. 
Each of the masters to give the arsenal 50 ducats for the dry docks, and 10 ducats for the purchase of houses, also 200 lbs. white-wrought wax, on their return, to the Procurators of St. Mark's Church. The presents for the King of England, and the Duke of Burgundy, to be paid with the first moneys derived from the averages on goods, one half on going, the other on returning; and as Sluys and Bruges were blockaded. by the Archduke Maximilian, by land and sea, the inhabitants of those places being in revolt against him, the Senate authorized the. captain of the Flanders galleys, Bortolomeo Minio, on the 29th April 1485, to take them either to Antwerp or Middleburg; the masters being forbidden to claim any indemnity on this account. 
Ducal Palace, 12 April 1485. 

[MA illuminated volume of 163 pages: on parchment, part in Latin and part in Italian, being the original commission drawn up by order of the Doge and Senate.]

Taken from Rawdon Brown, Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts (London, 1864) , Vol. 1: #492. The translation and editing within the text is his. Rawdon Brown owned the original commission, but it is not now listed in the Rawdon Brown papers in the British Library.

03 December 2012

The Philosopher and the Duchess

15th-C Greek philosopher

You know the Greek delegation at the Council of Union was in trouble from the git-go when George Amiroutzes was one of its leading minds. He, Scholarios, and Plethon -- all lay scholars -- had a better command of the issues and theology at hand than any of the 600-plus religious members of the delegation with the exception of Bessarion and Mark Eugenikos. Plus Amiroutzes and Scholarios read Latin, and Amiroutzes was one of the very few of the 600-plus who could speak Italian.

That Amiroutzes was a moral slug is amply demonstrated in Syropoulos' description of his taunting of Eugenikos during a major speech. On another occasion, in a discussion with Eugenikos, Bessarion, Isidore of Russia, Plethon, and the emperor, Amiroutzes was so aggressive towards Eugenikos that when Plethon came to his defense, Amiroutzes shouted Plethon down. Then there is the evidence from papal sources that he took a bribe for his vote. Scholarios voted for Union, too. And Bessarion. As did a great many of the delegation. Plethon had been warning them for 11-plus years that such a conference would be a disaster.

But few in the delegation had the social, political, or intellectual standing to be able to go back to Constantinople and claim so successfully that they had changed their minds. And there were not so many claims in mid-century to the position of "Greek philosopher" that Amiroutzes can be disregarded. In fact, if the intellectual accomplishment is hived off from his personal moral qualities, there is a great deal to be admired.

However, this entry is -- minimally -- about Amiroutzes and his private life, about which he showed no more taste than in his treatment of Eugenikos.

The lady in question was the daughter of Demetrios Laskaris Asan, kefali of Mouchli, who has been written about here before. There is no sure name recorded for her, although sometimes she is called "Maria" -- a reasonably safe name to assign a Byzantine woman, and sometimes she is called "Mouchliotissa." The fragile skeleton of a Byzantine church up on the Mouchli hillside is also called "Mouchliotissa" so I don't think this is very useful.

The lady was Duchess of Athens, wife of Franco Acciaiuoli, put in position by Mehmed after his cousin, Francesco, a minor, had come under the control of his mother and her lover who seem to have poisoned his father, Nerio II. When Mehmed took Athens in 1456, he also took the Duchess, Franco, and their three sons. The three sons eventually became janissaries, Franco became strangled, and the Duchess went into Mehmed's collection of high-status guests who were useful for negotiations.

Either in Constantinople or Adrianople, the married Amiroutzes met her and decided to marry her. Nothing is known of her feelings in the matter, and in fact nothing is known of her beyond her existence. Mehmed gave permission for the marriage -- a matter of Orthodox bigamy was not likely to concern him -- and the patriarch, Joasaph I, was ordered to perform the ceremony. Or to give permission for the ceremony.

There are various accounts of this, each worse than the others which variously claim that he was dragged, protesting, by his beard, and that he dropped down dead in chagrin. Or that Mehmed ordered the patriarch's beard and someone else's nose cut off, and that the patriarch tried to commit suicide in a cistern under the Pammakaristos. He was hauled out and exiled to Anchialos.  Much about this event and the patriarch is uncertain.

Amiroutzes and the Duchess seem to have been married, but this was not the last demonstration of his low moral character. He is said to have dropped dead with a dice-box in his hand, but this is probably not true.

What survives of this tawdry business are a couple of quatrains Amiroutzes is said to have written to the Duchess, very much in the tradition of medieval love poems from across Europe and the Middle East, and found not at all in Byzantine poetry, though many similar phrases show up in folksongs.

Shafts from your eyes strike the hearts
Alas, of those who see you. But, even so they adore
And rejoice as they burn; wounded, they love you.
Ah, what a love you beget, Ah what a passion you give birth to.

One time I saw you in the house, from below in the garden,
And by night, with your eyes leading me, I came;
A thrill took hold of me, astonishment and desire.
Ah what love you bear, who nurture as you conquer.

Βέλη ἐκ τῶν ὀμμάτων σου βάλλουσι τὰς καρδίας,
βαβαὶ, τῶν θεωμένων σοι. Οἱ δ'ὄμως ἀγαπῶσι
καὶ χαίρουσι φλεγόμενοι, φιλοῦσι τετρωμένοι.
Φεῦ οἷον ἔρωτα γεννᾷς, φευ οἷον πόθον τίκτεις.

Εἰς οἶκον εἶδον σε ποτὲ κάτωθεν ἐκ τοῦ κήπου,
καὶ τῇ σκιᾷ, τοῖς ὄμμασι σου προϊόντος, ἦλθον·
καὶ θάμβος ἔσχε με εὐθὺς καὶ πόθος σύν εκπλήξει.
Φεῦ οἷον φέρεις ἔρωτα, ἤ νίκας τρέφεις. 
Thanks to Pierre A. MacKay for the translation.